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Research Article

Pertussis: should we immunise neurologically disabled and developmentally delayed children?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 30 July 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:318
  1. R N Miles,
  2. G P Hosking


    A total of 400 children with neurological disorders were studied to ascertain whether they had been immunised against pertussis, the reasons for non-immunisation, and the "validity" of these reasons, as judged by interpretation of the recommendations of the Department of Health and Social Security. The results for this group were compared with those for a group of 400 aged matched controls. The study group had a significantly lower rate of immunisation than controls (p less than 0.01); rates for both groups fell sharply after 1975. A total of 192 study patients and 186 controls were not immunised. Those children with cerebral palsy had the lowest rate of immunisation (19%) and the highest number of valid reasons for non-immunisation (63%). Paediatricians apparently advised against immunisation in 61 (32%) of the index group but in only four (2%) of the controls. The risk of serious neurological handicap after pertussis immunisation is small and there is little evidence to support the view that underlying neurological disease predisposes a child to increased risk. The advice currently given by paediatricians may need to be reconsidered.